I’ve learned a lot about relationships this past year and I wanted to write some of them down. These can and should be applied to all sorts of relationships; from your church friends to your school acquaintances, the real-life besties to your dearest friends on the internet, and to guy and girl relationships, whether romantic or not. I’m very thankful that I’ve learned these now as young as I am and I hope they help me with all future relationships that I create.
Z. Know when to speak and when to shut up and listen.
In any relationship there’s always communication going on between two or more people. And it’s good for us to know how and when to speak up; to share our mind or state our feelings. That’s healthy. But what’s just as important is to know when to just be quiet and become a supportive or listening ear to someone else. (This applies especially with girls because we often work through things just by talking about our problems out loud–so guys, just let us talk. We’ll let you know if we actually need you to solve our problems for us.) Speaking and listening should be a decent balance on both sides of a healthy relationship. I personally need to learn to speak up more around friends and learn to be able to disagree politely.
Y. Understand that your standards, convictions or personal beliefs may not be the same for your friends and that that’s okay.
I’ve discovered that this is a basic ingredient to any healthy friendship, even though it’s hard to do. Admit it it, it sucks when people don’t respect your opinions or standards. It sucks for me. This is often a big problem in Christian or religious communities because each family or church has their own golden standard and can become very critical of anyone who doesn’t 100 percent agree, even of other people in their same religion. I know this because I’ve both done it myself and I’ve been in churches where that’s pretty much the norm. Seriously, understanding where our boundaries are in regards to how other people feel is important. Be sure to also surround yourself with people who will be gracious to your convictions too.
X. Respect Their No.
We need to respect the other side’s no just as they need to respect our no. Note: this doesn’t mean cater to the other’s every want (that becomes a unhealthy relationship) and it’s also important to distinguish between them saying no for themselves (the good no) and saying no in order to control a you or a situation manipulatively (a bad no). I’ve realized that this is important for when we and our friends hit our adult years. Understanding the good no is simply being considerate of the other person’s feelings. If they don’t want to debate a certain topic or if they’d rather stay home for the night and not go out with the gang, then we should be able to respect that no. This is really hard for me when it comes to respecting my sister’s no, so I have to use the “do unto others” rule as a reminder to help me remember how I would want to someone to respond to my no. Also, being able to say no is a part of being honest and healthy, so we need to be able to feel free to say no to our friends or other people when we need to.
W. Relationships, of any kind, do take work. But know when it’s too much work.
My sister came and talked to me one day about some trouble she was having with a friend; she said something along the lines of, “I know friendship takes work but I don’t think it should take this much work.” It is important to understand that good friendships do take time, clear communication and thoughtfulness to build trust and strength. But I’ve discovered that healthy relationships should be a two way street; we should be giving as well as receiving when we are in a healthy friendship. If we’re in a relationship that is constantly sucking our energy, excitement for life and our time away from us without getting our own needs met, then we’re probably in a unhealthy relationship. We are going to run into unhealthy people our whole lifetime and it’s important to know that we should be able to address this problem with the persons in question. And if need be, be able to back out of harm’s way.
U. Marriage Is Hard.
Since I’ve been old enough to seriously think about marriage, I’ve known that it wasn’t easy. But it wasn’t till these past couple years where I got some serious wake up calls on just how hard making marriage work actually is. It’s probably the scariest relationship to enter into. I no longer take the issue lightly anymore and in many ways I’m now quite terrified of it. I would still like to get married someday because I know it’s worth it if both sides put the effort into making it worth it. The guy is just going to be dang special for me to strongly consider entering into such a responsibility. However, I am glad to have been thoroughly scared,too, because I feel way more prepared for reality then I was a few years ago…
Seriously; reality is–surprise!–real. So let’s be prepared for it. Even if it’s a few years away…